Advice and Tech Help For New Bloggers Blog Hop 2015

Last spring I participated in The Let’s Get Acquainted New Blogger’s Blog Hop, sponsored by Plum & June.  The experience was priceless for me. I met wonderful quilt bloggers from around the world, that became colleagues and friends. I feel blessed to have met them, and continue to learn, grow, laugh, support, and share with them. 

Thank you to this year’s hosts, who I was lucky to meet in last years Advice for New Bloggers Blog Hop; Yvonne@Quilting JetGirl, Stephanie & Michelle@ Late Night QuilterCheryl @ Meadow Mist Designs, and TerriAnn @ Childlike Fascination. Check out their blogs and be prepared to be wowed!!

I have 11 suggestions that I learned along the way, as well as some great advice from several other bloggers (alum) who participated in last year’s New Blogger’s Blog Hop, before 2014. Their blogs are full of inspiration and beautiful quilty items. Check them out too.

1. Make your photos extra large. Readers love to see big photos that are high resolution and artistic.

2. Consider taking a photography class. Before I began blogging, all I knew was “point and shoot.” I learned some simple techniques, which were invaluable for making my blog look better. And, take your camera everywhere. (Thank you Christa@Christaquilts).

3. Because photos can sometimes be more important than text in quilt blogging, be sure that your text supports your photos, and your photos and illustrations support your text. Re-read some of your favorite picture books for great examples. 

4. Write in your own voice. (Another great Christaism from Christa@Christaquilts). If you’re not sure what that is, you need to figure that out. I’ve been a professional author/writer for 15 years. BUT even with those experiences, I had to figure out how to stay true to my voice within this new platform; as a quilt blogger. 

I began by reading over 200 quilt blogs. I wrote practice posts. I didn’t publish in the blogosphere until my gut felt they “rang true.” You will know it, when you find it. I promise. And you probably won’t have to read 200 blogs to discover your incredible and unique voice.

5. Try to keep your posts informational, upbeat and not too long, (unlike this post). If it feels too long, break it up into a series with parts; 1,2,3,4, etc. Readers today have so much information to read and absorb. I can’t provide a recommend a word count, but…. 

Try this exercise; Read some blogs. Notice how long your attention span lasts. When you find one that is the length you feel works, copy and paste it into a word document. Then highlight all the text, and use the word count tool. Use that number as your benchmark average. Some days your posts will require more words, some days less, and that’s okay too. There are no quilt blogging police.

6. I have broken the following rule, and sometimes it’s okay to break your own rules. Don’t apologize, from Molli Sparkles, advice to new bloggers. If your photos aren’t magazine perfect on some days, it’s fine. For example, it was a bad winter where we live this past year, and it was hard to get a good photo in our tiny condo. I’ve had a few major orthopedic surgeries, and I didn’t want to risk slipping in the snow and ice, but I had to “make it work.” Remember we’re blogging about quilts here, it’s not emergency room work. 

This was the only angle I could photograph this quilt with decent lighting. 

I couldn’t get this photo with the correct lighting no matter how many times I tried inside, without building or purchasing some type of small light shed.

7. Link and give credit to others. If you were inspired by someone else’s work, link back to them. They will be flattered, and you will feel good about yourself.

8. Don’t be a no reply blogger. I learned this from  Molli Sparkles. I reply to all comments by e-mail.Then I answer questions in the comment box, and via e-mail. One exception – if I have a large response during a give-a-way. I make every effort to e-mail everyone, but sometimes it’s hard to write back to 200+ e-mails. 

If the winner of a give-a-way is a no reply blogger, I try my best to find them. After a week, I have to pick another winner. If you do offer give-a-ways, follow-up with the winner to make sure they received their prize. 

In one instance, the sponsor of a give-a-way had a family emergency and had to go out of town immediately. The prize went out a week late. Fortunately, the winner and I were in e-mail contact, so I gave her the heads up, and it wasn’t a problem. 

9. Write about what you know about, and what you love. Another Mollism. I never write about paper piecing, or review quilting books or patterns that use paper-piecing. I am a dyslexic, lefty, which makes it a difficult and frustrating process for me. (Not everyone). I stick to machine piecing and hand applique, and leave the paper piecing to those who are in love with it, and do it so well. There’s something in quilting for everyone. 

10. Connect and participate with other quilt bloggers. Thank you Jess@Elven Garden. I belong to a guild an hour away from our home. And I participate with a small group of women who I have worked side-by-side with for over four years at Pins and Needles in Mt. Kisco, NY. Deb and Lisa, (25+ years of teaching experience), provide help, support and suggestions during our Friday morning clinics. As much as I love them, they are not bloggers. 

That said, quilt blog world was an enigma to me when I began two years ago. Leave comments for bloggers whose work you admire. If you feel uncomfortable leaving questions in the comments box, send them via e-mail.  Thank them. Be positive, because quilt blog world is a friendly and positive place, and people really like to keep it that way. 

Participate in linky parties and quilt-a-longs. Linky parties are easy and don’t take a lot of time. Be sure to comment on at least three other people’s posted links. Before the New Blogger’s Blog Hop last year, I didn’t know what a linky party was. Fortunately, a lot of kind bloggers responded to me and explained how they work and how it’s a good way to learn, meet and be inspired by other quilters. You will meet many others who are like minded.

11.  I don’t follow this as well as I should. Try your best to be consistent, (Thanks again, Jess@Elven Garden). I used to post every Monday and Thursday. 

Several months after I began blogging, my part-time job outside my home picked up, and I received more paid writing assignments from Make Modern, a new quilt e-zine from Australia. I am trying to get back on a regular schedule and set up posts in advance. But, as I said before, we are quilt bloggers, not emergency room doctors and nurses, and I’m not going to berate myself for increasing our family income. Priorities and life balance rule here.

A great example. We don’t have kids at home anymore, and a lot of quilt bloggers do. God Bless you working moms because I am in awe of you all. You know where your priorities are, and so many of you never cease to amaze me at how you juggle it all. Quilting, blogging, designing and taking care of all your kiddos, husbands, pets and your home. I promise, If you go for 10 days without a post, the world won’t come to an end, and readers will forgive you for it. They will even stick with you. Thank them.

You are about to begin an amazing journey. I wish you all the best of luck. If you have a question, feel free to ask and write me at 

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Most of all, have fun!!

Happy quilt blogging!!

Make Modern – A New Quarterly Quilting e-zine From Australia

I am excited to share some amazing news, which I have been keeping a secret for a few months. I’ve always been good at keeping confidences, so I am very excited to finally share with you a new, bi-monthly, quilting e-zine, Make Modern, from Australia. Everything in this e-zine is fresh, crisp and relevant. 

I am one of the contributing writers, so I may be blogging a little less. The  article I wrote for this issue is called, “How to Develop a Great Relationship With Your Longarm Quilter.” 

But this blog post is not about me. It’s about the e-zine and everyone, including the three editors, Jane Kelly, Kristy Lea, and Lara Motta, who worked so hard to make this happen. It takes a dedicated team of people to create an amazing publication.  

The premier issue is full of creative quilting and home decorating patterns, informative articles, projects, resources, technology, and stunning photographs. Read the about page on the Make Modern web site, because you may just see yourself in the text of that page, as I did. To see and sample the preview issue go to Issuu.  At the bottom of this post there are links about how to subscribe.

A Short Review of What’s Inside This Issue

As many of us know, quilt math can be pretty tricky. Alyce Blyth clearly explains and shows us with examples, how to use it successfully in, “Upsize, Downsize, Resize Any Quilt Block.” No more fuss or frustrating computations that cause complicated equations that end up resembling algorithms. 

Instagram has always been a bit puzzling for me. I keep thinking; Why do I need it? Why do I want it? Do I need to post to IG and facebook? 

However, “Instagram for Quilters: A What, Why and How Guide,” by Kristy Lea gave me a way to experience it differently; think about it more as a fun and enjoyable social media option. By not experiencing it as another “must do item” I need to check off my “to do” list every time I post to my blog, the stress factor is gone. Creative thoughts are beginning to come my way. And maybe, or not, in a few months I will have figured out a way to integrate it with my blog. In the meantime, I’m just having fun with it. On another note, any publication that includes an article about relevant technology in my field always grabs my attention and gratitude.

How many times have I machine quilted in the ditch, and had a hard time keeping my stitches in that ditch?  The number is far greater than my age, I can tell you that! Melissa Gottliebsen wrote an outstanding article, “Straight Lines; Introduction to Straight Line Quilting.” There are other, and possibly better ways to achieve the “stitch in the ditch,” look and feel, without having to “stitch in the ditch.” I can’t wait to try her method. The creativity in this article awesome.

A fellow blogger from The New Bloggers Blog Hop, from the Spring – Summer, 2014, Jo King, shares with readers her cat, and her pattern for “Memory Cats,” which grew out of a QAL she participated in, using Elizabeth Hartman’s pattern. Extremely cute. 

Make Modern includes a few give-a-ways, and ends with a library, which includes some of the best modern quilting books published. And there is some information about what’s coming in the next issue too.

Overall Make Modern has it all – 112 pages of what Jane describes in our mini-interview below, and some. Take a go at it!

Mini Interview

Jane Kelly, one of the co-founders and editors, and I finally had about five minutes to do a mini-interview. (The magazine was about to launch on the internet, and I was about to leave for a long vacation). We sat down at our computers at the very end of August, a little more than thirteen hours apart, and a half a world away. I’m very happy to share this with you here;

Anne: Congratulations on the debut of Make Modern. Tell us how the e-zine came about.

Jane: Make Modern was born when Kristy (Lea), and I (we are in a real-life quilt group together), were lamenting the lack of modern quilting publications in Australia. The few locally-produced quilting magazines here are very steeped in tradition, so we saw a gap in the market. 
With my background in craft magazine publishing and Kristy’s experience in blogging, pattern writing and design, and our involvement in the social media side of quilting, we realised we were as good a candidates as any to bring a modern quilting publication to fruition. We roped in one of our business-minded quilting besties, Lara (Motta), and the Make Modern team was born.
Anne: What is the mission of this new modern e-magazine?
Jane: Our goal is to raise the profile of modern quilting in Australia, and to provide a quality source of fresh, modern patterns each month. We also have lots of features each issue so it is more than just patterns. 
There is a lot of very cool stuff happening in the modern quilting world and we want to bring a bit of that to our readers. We also have a fair bit of practical information, because everyone wants to become better quilters. The few locally-produced quilting magazines here are very steeped in tradition, so we saw a gap in the market and plan to fill it.
Anne: Describe what the content will be like.
Jane: Of course, social media and the online community is such a huge aspect of modern quilting that the magazine’s content will be international, to reflect the community. But we really want to do what we can to build the modern quilting community in Australia. 
It is very much about community for us and hopefully readers will feel like the magazine is their magazine, they can share their ideas with us, they can connect and contribute via social media etc. We want to work with our contributors to help them grow their crafting businesses/blogs etc too.
So far, we have had a fantastic response to our concept, with so many people telling us how excited they are about the magazine. Given the first issue isn’t even available until next week, (beginning of September), that’s very reassuring and shows us that our gut feeling about the gap in the market was correct.

Launching any new quilting endeavor begins with a great blog hop, doesn’t it? And I am more than honored to be a part of this list. Please visit the blogs of these very talented quilters and contributors.

The blog hop started when I was traveling abroad, and the technology wasn’t cooperating with me at all. I hope you check out the blogs of these very creative quilters, many of whom we all know, or have heard of.  I am honored, and feel so lucky to be among them.

1st September                   Make Modern
3rd September                   Kristy @ Quiet Play
5th September                   Where Jane Creates
7th September                   Gina @ Party of Eight: Our Story
9th September                   Molli Sparkles
11th September                 Juliet @ The Tartan Kiwi
13th September                 cat&vee
15th September                 Ruth @ Ben and Charly’s corner
17th September                 Kelly @ Kelliotmagic
19th September                 Alyce @ Blossom Heart Quilts
21st September                 Serena @ Sew Giving
23rd September                 Melissa @ Ms Midge
27th September                 Anne @ Hudson Valley Quilts

It takes a strong team with dedication and “a fire in the belly,” type of effort and attitude to produce an e-zine that’s this good. 

This is how you can purchase a copy or subscription, or go to the Make Modern home page where you can shop and subscribe to the newsletter for the blog.